Road to normalcy
THE WEEK|June 28, 2020
India needs to reimagine and reinvigorate its ties with Nepal to counter China’s growing influence in Kathmandu
REKHA DIXIT

On June 13, Nepal’s parliament amended its constitution and ratified a new map of the country, which shows around 335sqkm of Indian territory as being part of Nepal. The bold bill was passed nearly unanimously, and it brought together parties as divergent as the ruling communists, the opposition Congress, and groups representing the Mhadesi community.

The legislation was a knee-jerk reaction to India opening a new road to Kailash Mansarovar through the Kalapani valley, a region whose ownership has for long been a matter of dispute between the two neighbours.

Certain recent events may also have spurred Nepal into action. Last November, India released its new map after the abrogation of Article 370. While the map did not alter international boundaries, China objected to designating Ladakh as a Union territory. It said there were disputes between the two countries in the region, and that India’s move affected China’s sovereignty. Nepal, too, objected to showing the Kalapani valley as Indian territory. It sent three notes last year to the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu and the government of India, proposing foreign secretary-level talks to resolve issues.

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